Creating a Reflective Sky

Have you ever taken a photo and just wished the sky could be better? Perhaps you have another image with an incredible sky that you know would look great in your new shot.

Great news! We are here to help.

Luminar 4 Adobe Lightroom Plugin

This editing walkthrough uses Luminar 4 as the software example. Luminar 4 is an extremely powerful and efficient editing tool. It is great for applying more manipulative edits to your images. The best thing about it is it works seamlessly as an Adobe Lightroom plugin.

Open Your Base Image

Open up your base image either directly in Luminar 4 or through Adobe Lightroom (In the top menu, click Photo > Edit In > Luminar 4, or right-click on the image and select Edit In > Luminar 4).

If you are wanting to add a reflection of your sky your base image needs to have a place where a reflection would go. As you can see from the below image the lake provides a great reflective element.

Load Custom Sky

Open the creative section and choose load custom sky. This will enable you to choose any image stored on your computer. If you already have a brilliant sky in mind then open it.

It is always a great idea to shoot powerful skies when you are out on your photography journeys. Even if the foreground isn’t particularly interesting you can always make use of a great sky. If you save your skies all in one folder then locating them gets even easier.

Think About Cropping

You may find this process a lot easier if you crop the image that contains your sky. Cropping from the horizon and up will make blending easier in the next step.

Position the Horizon and Blend

Position your horizon so that it sits on the base image horizon. Use the blending sliders until you reach an outcome that you are happy with.

Don’t forget that clouds never go below the horizon. Unless they are reflected of course.

Adding Your Reflection

Hit the + button in layers and select ‘add new image layer’. You can then select the same sky image as before from you computer.

Layer Transform

Hit the layer transform button

Flip For Reflection

After importing the layer hit the flip icon at the top of the screen. This will display your recent import upside down. Just as it would look if it were being reflected.

Position Reflected Sky

If you set your image opacity to 50 then this will allow you to see both images. This will help you to position the upside down sky using image transform.

Remember the reflective sky needs to match the sky above it for it to look authentic and natural.

Erasing Unwanted Parts

This part will take some trial and error to get used to.

You will probably need to paint out (erase) parts of the top layer mask. The layer that has your reflected sky on. It is likely that some of the image is covering your foreground just like in the bottom left of the above and below image.

To start erasing areas you don’t want your reflected sky in select Edit mask then choose brush. You’ll have to experiment with brush size, opacity and softness to get your blend right. For most of this you will want 100% opacity.

If you make a mistake you can change the brush from – to + and paint back in so do not worry.

Use the wheel on your mouse to zoom in on any areas that require extra careful attention.

Top Layer Mask After Erasing

The below image shows the areas of the mask that remain after some parts have ben erased. Notice how the bottom left of the image now has no overlay in it.

Merge All Layers Into One

Now hit Stamped layer to merge all layers. You can then edit the images exposure however you like. One you are happy with the results hit ”Apply Image”. If you opened the image via Adobe Lightroom it will now send this final image back to Lightroom for you to apply any final touches.

Final Outcome
Final Outcome Courtesy of Steve Coupland

A big thank you to our Facebook group member and extremely talented photographer Steve Coupland. All images and editing steps have been provided by Steve.

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